Friday, August 25, 2017

School funding agreement reached

The legislative leaders of the Illinois General Assembly announced yesterday (Thursday) that they have come to an agreement in concept on a compromise to the school funding stalemate. Discussions will continue today and through the weekend, with the House of Representatives coming back to the Capitol on Sunday afternoon for a legislative session. Reportedly, drafting of the new legislation is underway.

Details are sketchy as those in the negotiating room have been tight-lipped and there is no legislation officially filed. But the expectations are an evidence-based funding model with most of the components mirroring SB 1; some modifications in reference to the governor’s amendatory veto revisions; mandate relief for public schools; and some version of an income tax credit for amounts paid to non-public school for tuition.

It is unclear as to the procedural path that this compromise language will take. SB 1 could be allowed to die with all of the new language added to different bills already in a posture for passage. Or, the House could vote to override the governor’s action on SB 1, thus enacting that bill into law, then approve subsequent legislation that would make the changes needed to SB 1 that correspond with the new agreement.

Apparently, the initial action on the funding reform plans will begin in the House. Once the House takes action (possibly Sunday; more likely Monday), any new legislation would need approval from the Senate. The Senate has not indicated when it plans to return to Springfield.

No general funds have flowed to schools this fiscal year because of the lack of agreement on an evidence-based funding model. School districts should have received their second general aid payment by now. Once legislation is approved and enacted into law, the State Board of Education and Office of the Comptroller processes of vouchering and issuing payment should take seven to 10 days.